Sutton Picks Haas Cink as Wild Cards

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupU.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton selected Jay Haas and Stewart Cink as wild cards to round out the American team.
 
'I want to congratulate everyone who made this team, and I especially want to congratulate Jay and Stewart,' said Sutton. 'They are not only great players, but they're great human beings. This team has been rounded out very nicely with their additions.''
 
Seven players had clinched a spot regardless of what happened at the year's final major: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Kenny Perry, David Toms and Chad Campbell.
 
'I had about five guys on my mind the entire time,' said Sutton of the wild-card picks. 'Somebody could have changed that yesterday - and there were a lot of changes. But Stewart and Jay were on my mind the entire time.'
 
Chris DiMarco and Chris Riley played themselves into the Ryder Cup with their performances Sunday in the PGA Championship. DiMarco finished second after a three-man, three-hole playoff and Riley was fourth -- good enough to knock Haas and Steve Flesch out of the top 10 in the Ryder Cup point standings.
 
Justin Leonard needed to win the tournament to make the team.
 
'Justin Leonard played great,' said Sutton. 'But I just couldn't pick him because of just one event. I tried to make this over a longer period of time.'
 
The two who made the team - Haas and Cink - were the lucky ones.
 
'They played well for quite a period of time here,' said Sutton. 'Both of them in the top 25 in putting. Both are great drivers. Both are good iron players. Neither one are what I would call prolific long hitters - but too bad, so sad guys, I'm one of those guys, too.'
 
DiMarco made two double bogeys the final round at the '01 PGA, four strokes that kept him from making the U.S. team that year. He only needed an eighth-place tie to make it this year.
 
After hitting his 6-iron onto the green at No. 18, 'I looked at my caddie and said, 'That's good enough, for sure,'' DiMarco said. 'I'm proud of myself that I went out and did it.'
 
Riley missed a 4-foot putt on the 18th and thought that kept off the team, but he made it when Leonard didn't.
 
Fred Funk, 48, would have been knocked off the team only if Leonard, Riley and DiMarco had all made it. Having missed the cut, he was watching on television and doing the calculations in his head.
 
'It hasn't really hit me yet, other than I'm getting a million phone calls,' Funk told The Associated Press. 'That was my goal going into this year. To have it actually happen at this stage in my career, it's a great way to finish my regular tour career.'
 
Funk played in the Presidents Cup last year at Fancourt in South Africa, where DiMarco made a clutch putt on the 17th hole on the final day. 'Hal said, 'Just take that moment, with a Ryder Cup on American soil, and multiply it by a 100,'' Funk said.
 
Flesch, who came to Whistling Straits ninth in the standings, and Haas, who was 10th, were the big losers in the wild scramble that determined the majority of the team. Haas, of course, eventually was selected.
 
'It's out of my hands now. I had my chance and I didn't play that well this week,' Flesch said. 'I'm tired of hearing about it. I can't wait until he makes his two picks and it's over.'
 
Jeff Maggert, who was 13th in the standings and needing to move up, withdrew because his wife gave birth to twins. By Sunday, after cuts and withdrawals, there were 17 players left in contention for the three spots up for grabs.
 
'It's out of my hands now,' said Sutton. 'I didn't have but two choices.'
 
Cink needed a sixth place and finished 17th. Scott Verplank needed to finish ninth and came in 62nd. Todd Hamilton needed a seventh and got a 37th. Seven golfers, including Leonard, needed to win and didn't.
 
Haas, 50, was the second-oldest player ever picked for the team, second only to Raymond Floyd in '93. Haas last played in the Ryder Cup in '95 at Oak Hill. On the 18th hole of the deciding match, he popped up his tee shot on his way to making bogey, losing to Philip Walton and giving Europe the win.
 
Sutton himself missed the cut at Whistling Straits. He spent the last two days in his hotel room watching the tournament on television with the volume turned down.
 
Related links:
  • U.S. and European Ryder Cup Points List

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

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    The Associated Press was also used existensively in this report.
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    Got a second? Fisher a bridesmaid again

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:40 pm

    Ross Fisher is in the midst of a career resurgence - he just doesn't have the hardware to prove it.

    Fisher entered the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a share of the lead, and as he made the turn he appeared in position to claim his first European Tour victory since March 2014. But he slowed just as Tommy Fleetwood caught fire, and when the final putt fell Fisher ended up alone in second place, two shots behind his fellow Englishman.

    It continues a promising trend for Fisher, who at age 37 now has 14 career runner-up finishes and three in his last six starts dating back to October. He was edged by Tyrrell Hatton both at the Italian Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in the fall, and now has amassed nine worldwide top-10 finishes since March.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fisher took a big step toward ending his winless drought with an eagle on the par-5 second followed by a pair of birdies, and he stood five shots clear of Fleetwood with only nine holes to go. But while Fleetwood played Nos. 10-15 in 4 under, Fisher played the same stretch in 2 over and was unable to eagle the closing hole to force a playoff.

    While Fisher remains in search of an elusive trophy, his world ranking has benefited from his recent play. The veteran was ranked outside the top 100 in the world as recently as September 2016, but his Abu Dhabi runner-up result is expected to move him inside the top 30 when the new rankings are published.

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    McIlroy (T-3) notches another Abu Dhabi close call

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 1:08 pm

    Rory McIlroy's trend of doing everything but hoist the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is alive and well.

    Making his first start since early October, McIlroy showed few signs of rust en route to a tie for third. Amid gusty winds, he closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the week at 18 under, four shots behind Tommy Fleetwood who rallied to win this event for the second consecutive year.

    The result continues a remarkable trend for the Ulsterman, who has now finished third or better seven of the last eight years in Abu Dhabi - all while never winning the tournament. That stretch includes four runner-up finishes and now two straight T-3 results.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    McIlroy is entering off a disappointing 2017 in which he was injured in his first start and missed two chunks of time while trying to regain his health. He has laid out an ambitious early-season schedule, one that will include a trip to Dubai next week and eight worldwide tournament starts before he heads to the Masters.

    McIlroy started the final round one shot off the lead, and he remained in contention after two birdies over his first four holes. But a bogey on No. 6 slowed his momentum, and McIlroy wasn't able to make a back-nine birdie until the closing hole, at which point the title was out of reach.

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    Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

    By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

    The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 one ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

    Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

    Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

    Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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    Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

    SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

    Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

    Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

    With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

    ''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

    Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


    Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


    ''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

    Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

    Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

    He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    "I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''